Directed by Nobuhiro Ôbayashi
Produced by Haruki Kadokawa
Written by Taku Mayumura
Cast: Hiroko Yakushimaru, Ryôichi Takayanagi, Miyoko Akaza, Fumi Dan and Hajime Hana
A young school girl must realize his psychic powers and then save her classmates when her school comes under the control of an evil psychic.
Teen drama with paranormal powers isn’t the zaniest thing imaginable. School in the Crosshairs is one such example, though the title makes it sounds like an action film. It’s a dazzling 80s style adventure. It starts off in a typical fashion of a run of the mill teen drama, awfully mundane without anything of the ordinary. But, it doesn’t take long before the psychedelic trappings slowly slip in. That’s probably the film’s greatest and unique element. The psychedelic elements come in the form of using pre-CGI style special effects to convey a sense of surrealism. It’s usually maximizing the use all forms of colors for effect. Although the opposite does happen, the color fades to highlight the paranormal.
The surrealism blends a mundane narrative rather into something more idiosyncratic and unworldly. There is a touch of horror, but it is overwhelmed by screwball comedy and the zany overtone. The school being overtaken by zealous overachievers becomes a lesson in the importance of individualism. An excessive academic achievement that suppresses a person’s individuality is not worth the costs. It isn’t worth it because it undermines a person’s humanity. The much forgotten and maligned physical education stands in as a symbol for this idea of valuing individualism. The finale is a psychedelic montage with a great dose of colors to strike at your senses. The montage is supposed to be on a cosmic level so makes it all the more sensational and the humanist themes presented do as well. The emotions at play give the whole sequence a good character driven focus.
Shoot in the Crosshairs is a paranormal thriller that explores the pressure of limiting freedom to attain academic success. Yet, a good humanist message isn’t enough to cover for the largely paper thin characters. The amount of praise this film has received is unfounded for me. The ideas are interesting, and they need further exploration.